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Sunken barge loaded with iron ore raised

MISSISSIPPI RIVER — Inland Salvage Inc. of New Orleans has successfully completed the salvage of a hopper barge loaded with iron ore that was damaged and sunk during a collision on the Mississippi River near Waggaman, La.

The 195-foot hopper barge was struck by a north-bound bulker while tied up in the fleet. The resulting damage caused the barge to sink fully loaded in 65 feet of water parallel with the river bank.

Inland Salvage mobilized its heavy lift salvage spread from Pass Christian, and was on site within 24 hours of notification. Once on scene, the salvage crew began removing the hatch covers and unloading the cargo of iron ore. During this process the barge became buoyant on its stern end, which was facing up river at the time. Due to river currents, the casualty began to move with its bow still on the river bottom. Salvage teams immediately responded by allowing the now floating stern to rotate facing down river and secured the floating end to a support spud barge. Cargo removal continued until dive inspections revealed that most of the cargo had been removed. Inland Salvage moved its A-frame barges “Big Al” and “Large Marge” into position for lifting the barge. Once rigged the barge was lifted completely from the water.

Hull surveys noted severe damage to the port-side tanks causing flooding of the hopper hold. Salvage teams were able to fabricate a patch and seal off the hold. The barge was then released from the A-frames and, floating on its own, the barge was then secured to the salvage spread and pushed five hours up river to dry dock for survey. During the tow the barge remained watertight and no pumping was required.

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